Reaction fanzine first appeared around 2006 in Budapest and its first five issues (published the following four years) were in Hungarian. What started as your typical photocopied A5 zine, became a professionally printed and very thick fanzine. Just in time for the release of Reaction #13, we reached out to fanzine author Bence Sabján to discuss his work on what’s currently one of Europe’s finest bilingual hardcore zines.
Reaction #13 is officially out today, July 23th. It’s still only in Hungarian, though… so watch out for the English version this Summer!
Hello Bence! You’ve been part of the hardcore punk scene in Europe for a long time now. How did you get interested in hardcore punk zines? When was your first contact with punk music zines?
Hi there! When I got into hardcore around 1998-1999, fanzines played a big role. In high school I was listening to bands that were closer to mainstream like Suicidal Tendencies. Then I got some dubbed tapes from a friend with Agnostic Front and Ignite on them. We discovered that there was a scene of underground hardcore in Hungary. I think I saw the first local hardcore bands performing at a bigger festival in the Summer of ’99 and this was when I got my hands on the first fanzines.
Egyenesen Át, Total Addiction, Positive Front, they were the most important Hungarian hardcore zines at the time. I dove into the scene, never looked back, and started to do interviews and stuff for our first fanzine.
What’s the story behind Reaction Fanzine? You’ve been pretty active between 2006 and 2009, then returned with a few more issues since 2015. Can you go a bit more in-depth about your favorite articles, featured bands and the whole concept around the zine?
Two of my friends wanted to make a fanzine, so they started to work on the content, but they felt like they needed some help. At the time I was looking for help, too, to keep my website alive and we shared a target group. So I let the website die and we all joined forces to put out the first Reaction issue. We had a great team and everything went really well. The second and third issues were printed professionally, not photocopied like the first one, and they sold out pretty fast. It was amazing. We truly had some momentum. But the fourth issue took us a bit longer to publish and the interest wasn’t the same. I had 100+ zines lying in my apartment for years.
Later on, I put out issue 5 with two new friends, but we printed and sold a very little amount and then stopped. In 2015, a friend of mine asked me to do and interview with As Friends Rust, a band he knew I love. I had so much fun working on this project, it’s one of my favorites to this day. When I heard the website we made it for wanted to cut it, because it was too long for an online publication, I brought Reaction back and released it in its entirety with some old, unreleased content I’d been sitting on. It was perfect timing, because I just had some unexpected free time that I filled with fun (zine making) instead of work, haha. From that point reaction has been more or less a one man army. Huge thanks to Anna and Ralf for proofreading everything! This is my favourite era of the fanzine. We grew together, I started to translate every issue to English since #7 and I gained lots of friendships from this experience.
I did a lot of interviews. I enjoy doing them live or via email. I do my best to make them fun, interesting and deep. I’m really not a man of articles, but I’d like to believe that my questions reflect my personality in some way. And not all interviews are just about music. We discuss a lot of topics. My favourite interviews were made with As Friends Rust, The Effort, Spirits, Burn, The Movielife, Spirit Crusher, Battery and Bane.
Seems like the zine is getting better with time. What’s the best thing you’ve done so far?
I’d like to split the title of best issue between #12 and the Bane special. They are the thickest ones and what you can read on those pages is not just filler text. I’m so proud of how the Bane issue came out. It has a colored cover and features interviews with all members of the latest lineup, all the main ex-members, the promoter, the tour manager, drivers, friends and fans from all over the world. When I put it in their hands and watched them browse through it for the first time, it was one of the most rewarding moments in my life.
That Bane special farewell zine was really great, indeed! Their bassist Brendan ‘Stu’ Maguire unfortunately passed away recently after a two-year-long battle with cancer. Can you talk a bit about their influence on hardcore kids in Central Europe. Also, are there any distros from which you can still buy this farewell zine?
RIP Stu. Fuck cancer! Bane was really special, but I can’t describe exactly why. There’s no middle way with Bane, I guess. You gotta love or hate the band. Wish I was there at the We’re With Stu show to see their surprise set. I miss Bane shows a lot. Those times made me feel young and alive. You can get yourself a copy from Ugly And Proud Records.
You always put in great effort to publish your zines in both Hungarian and English. Why do you think it’s important for non-English speaking countries to have DIY punk zines in their native tongue? Are there any other active zines in Hungary that are doing the job of keeping the scene alive?
Thanks. I put a lot of time in it to make the zine available for everyone. I don’t sell hundreds of zines, so I know the people who buy copies, and there are people here who love zines but don’t speak English. I don’t want to let them down. Many times I feel like I’m wasting my precious time, but I don’t want to give up on the English version neither. I made international connections that I don’t want to fade away.
I think a healthy scene needs fanzines or any kind of media of its own. There’s this community in Budapest that runs a venue called Kripta and they put out their own zines sometimes. Besides that, Reaction is the only Hungarian hardcore fanzine at the moment. We have some blogs and websites, they also help to keep the scene alive and informed.
I guess, the hardcore scene in Hungary is struggling not only with the global Covid-pandemic but also living under the right-wing government of Orban.
Damn, I’m so pissed. We are running backwards in time, undoing moral evolution of decades. We still have some hope that they have to step back because this is against human rights and equality. We’ll see. But if they lose the elections, I’m afraid the damage they have done can’t be undone easily.
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but issue 13 Hungarian version is ready and releases today. In order to support the LGBTQIA+ community, I reached out to one of my gay friends and convinced him to write an article for the zine. He used to do his own zine and did his coming out in an article that really touched me. So I figured, if they don’t want us to talk about it, we should still talk about these things. Love is love.
Are you still straight edge and vegan? What keeps you motivated after all these years?
I’m straight edge since the beginning of 2000. Now it comes naturally. It would be weird to drink. There’s no temptation. I’m vegetarian. This is what you call lazy and selfish cheating vegans, haha. We changed the milk of the entire family to rice milk a long time ago. I eat a lot of cereals with yoghurt and since Lidl has these plant-based yogurts, we took a big step towards going dairy free. Meat is murder, our planet is dying, the situation couldn’t be any worse. Enough for motivation? People who eat meat every day just refuse to do the right thing. Besides, they risk cancer and other health issues.
Do you still read new zines? Anything that grabbed your attention recently? Also, if you’re going to read some 10+ years old zine for the International Zine Month 2021, what will that be?
I do. But I’d love to read more. A lot more. And not just zine, books and comics too. Right now I’m halfway through Soul Craft #3. Shout outs to Apostolis. He’s doing a great job with his fanzine. I’m fucking jealous, haha! I’ve spent the zine month working hard to release the Hungarian version of Reaction #13. No reading for me till August, haha.
Thank you so much! Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks a lot for reaching out and showing interest in my work. It means a lot. I’ll let you know when I’m done translating issue 13 to English. You can always get a Reaction or two from Ugly And Proud Records. You can contact me, too, but they might have better selection and service, haha.